Key Values for a Sustainable Media Business

We have stressed the importance of value-based management as a key driver of sustainability in any business strategy. Values provide the necessary framework for sustainability: they are helpful to distinguish between short-term profit and long-term wealth, they provide orientation in difficult situations and they manifest a certain sense of responsibility that penetrates all actions.

Values that focus on their sustainability aspect and that of the company do create wealth and long-term success. While sustainability at first glance might be a „neutral“ value, it is in its essence a very positive attribute: in each and every decision you should consider what impact it has on your clients, workforce, environment, and – most of all – on future generations. In such a philosophical sense, sustainability is a holistic business approach that covers all economical, social and ecological aspects of your business. 

There is a certain set of values that support the idea of sustainability in the media industry. They might be not unique to that industry per se, but have proven to be worth special attention and focus as they create long-term benefit for media enterprises and, in specific, TV and Broadcasting businesses. 

Innovation: a sustainable media business has Innovation written all over it. One might think that sustainability in business means automatically to be a very conservative, tradition-focused companies that shies away from risk: and innovation seems often to be associated with risk in such companies. But what might be true (or at least was) for a bank or insurance company does not apply to media. Here, innovation is the key ingredient of a sustainability strategy. Innovation is closely linked to Creativity. Creativity is the very essence of a media business. If you stay innovative and create constantly new productions and services for your audience, you will stay around for very long.

Sense of Purpose and Meaning: let’s face it – our industry is a people’s business. We would be nothing if it weren’t for all the innovate, creative, hard-working people in all the different areas that make a success media enterprise. If you want to have the value of creativity and innovation become a core feature of your strategy and value system, you need to think „your people first“. Creativity is human and you need to have that in your mind and heart all the time. Providing a workplace that has a sense of meaning and purpose will not only attract the best talent in the industry, it will also nurture creativity: because everyone wants to contribute to the cause with his or her best effort, ideas and showmanship.

Sense of Community: With creating a purpose-oriented, meaningful work environment and business per se, you will also need to look at building a community around this very idea of your business‘ purpose. I often write and lecture about the concept of digital tribes.  Tribes are a powerful idea and a strong glue to build a loyal customer base. The concept of community must be applied internally in your media business and externally as well. As a media business you are especially suited to create this community. Any non-media business must always use media itself for creating such digital tribes and hence, is going outside of its core competencies to do so. But in media you are the campfire where your tribe gathers and you need to keep that fire alight, warm and sustainable.

Well-Being: I should actually write „Philantrophy“ but being well as a value sounds more action oriented to me. You need to have the wellbeing in mind of everyone. As I said, we are a people‘s business. You must like people to have fun and find meaning when working in media. Because ultimately, we want to make people happy; we want to entertain, educate, inform, and support people. We want to do so because we want people doing and being well. As outlined above, humans are the core of our industry – as workforce and as customers. By always making sure that we have their wellbeing in mind, we create sustainable action. This is the social aspect of sustainability; and it is complemented, naturally (sic), with the ecological aspect. When we also consider the impact of our actions on the wellbeing of the earth, we are acting truly sustainable.

Transparency: as my fifth and last key value for sustainability in media, I want to highlight the importance of transparency. It does explain itself if you do look at the previous values closely. If you want to create a meaningful business and community; if you want to foster the wellbeing of people and earth and if you have a true understanding of creativity, then you must build a very trusted, reliable and credible business. Credibility is the word. And that requires transparency. As a media company you should always be honest with your audience. Do not take them for a ride, fool them or provide false information. Such short-term action will always come to light and will fall on your feet. Be transparent about how you create your stories, how you research data and how you are positioning yourself on certain issues. Transparency will create loyalty. Loyal employees and clients are what make a business sustainable.

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